National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy: 1997-98 Report


Department of Health and Human Services.

A banner reading: National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Despite the recent decline in the teen birth rate, teen pregnancy remains

a significant problem in this country. Most teen pregnancies are unintended.

Each year, about 200,000 teens aged 17 and younger have children. Their babies

are often low birth weight and have disproportionately high infant mortality

rates. They are also far more likely to be poor. About 80 percent of the

children born to unmarried teenagers who dropped out of high school are poor.

In contrast, just 8 percent of children born to married high school graduates

aged 20 or older are poor.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has responded to a call from the President and Congress for

a national strategy to prevent out-of-wedlock teen pregnancies and to a

directive, under the new welfare law, to assure that at least 25 percent

of communities in this country have teen pregnancy prevention programs in


Building on our previous work in this area, our national strategy is designed


I.  Strengthen the national response to prevent out-of-wedlock teen pregnancies.

II.  Support and encourage adolescents to remain abstinent.

Our national strategy will build on existing public and private-sector efforts

and on initiatives in the new welfare law by helping to provide the tools

needed to develop more strategic and targeted approaches to preventing

out-of-wedlock teen pregnancies. It will strengthen ongoing efforts across

the nation by increasing opportunities through welfare reform; supporting

promising approaches; building partnerships; improving data collection, research,

and evaluation; and disseminating information on innovative and effective


This strategy will also send the strongest possible message to teens that

postponing sexual activity, staying in school, and preparing for work are

the right things to do. In particular, our new

Girl Power! public education campaign

will engage the Department's teen pregnancy prevention programs in efforts

to promote abstinence among 9- to 14-year-old girls.


As we move forward in implementing the national strategy, we will adhere

to and promote the five principles that research and experience tell us are

key to promising community efforts:

  1. Parental and Adult Involvement: Parents and other adult mentors must

    play key roles in encouraging young people to avoid early pregnancy and to

    stay in school.

  2. Abstinence: Abstinence and personal responsibility must be primary

    messages of prevention programs.

  3. Clear Strategies for the Future: Young people must be given clear

    connections and pathways to college or jobs that give them hope and a reason

    to stay in school and avoid pregnancy.

  4. Community Involvement: Public and private-sector partners throughout

    communities, including parents, schools, business, media, health and human

    services providers, and religious organizations, must work together to develop

    comprehensive strategies.

  5. Sustained Commitment: Real success requires a sustained commitment

    to the young person over a long period of time.

The National Strategy

HHS Activities: Programs, Evaluation and Research

Teen Birth Data

Examples of Promising Program Strategies

Key Program Contacts and Resources

For further information please e-mail:


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